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Hi, or as we have learned in our first week, “Moloweni!” This is Jazz (a rising senior on the Duke Softball team) and Caitlin (a rising senior on the Stanford Volleyball team). We have had a great first week. We want to take you through a typical day here in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa.

At 8:00 am all of our alarms go off, and we rush up the stairs to be the first in the kitchen. We eat breakfast, pack our lunches for the day, and finish up last minute lesson planning. Bulelani, our awesome driver, picks us up at 8:40, and we drive 15 minutes to Zola, the township where we work. When we arrive, the kids are standing at the gate chanting “TEACHA TEACHA.”  Their smiles energize us for the day and are truly better than any cup of coffee.

During the first half of the day we focus on the fundamentals of the sport we are teaching. Today, the sport of the day was softball. We ran catching, hitting, pitching, and base running drills. Softball is not a popular sport in the township, but the kids were so eager and excited to learn the sport of Teachers Hannah, Jazz, and Jameson.

After the morning session, we transition into an academic workshop. Today we went over healthy eating and healthy lifestyles. We began by asking our campers what they know about these topics. They know a lot—they could name every fruit on the planet! We also provided examples of ways our campers can stay activate and maintain a balanced diet. To reiterate the lesson, we had the students draw what makes up a healthy lifestyle. We have provided examples of the kids’ artwork below.

children drawing outside
Students drawing below what they have learned during the academic lesson

Around 12:00 it is lunch time! The kids compete for who can sit the closest to the teachers! Lunch consist of endless games of jigalow, “boom chicka boom,” Simon Says, and keep away. It is important to note that they have taught us more lunch time games than we have taught them.

“Watching them play sports reminds us why we love sports so much—there is nothing better than being out on the field, court, track…with your best friends and laying it all on the line.”

The second half of the day is competition time. We break the kids up into teams, and they compete against each other. These campers are the most competitive sport players we have ever encountered. They slide, high five, dive, and give it their all day in and day out. Watching them play sports reminds us why we love sports so much—there is nothing better than being out on the field, court, track, etc. with your best friends and laying it all on the line.

We leave the township and head back to our house at 2:30. We are exhausted, but the grind never stops. When we arrive at the gym, Mike hits the treadmill, Blake takes the girls through 8 minute abs, and then we all spread out to do our own individual workouts. Jazz and I had a pull up competition. We will let you guess who won (see photo below).

female student-athletes doing pull up on bar
Working out at the gym

Nighttime is bonding time. We eat dinner together and discuss the highs and lows of our day. We also prep the lesson plan for the following day and usually do some type of cultural activity or reflection. One of our team mottos on this trip is, “Disconnect to connect.” We put our phones away and spend quality time together sharing stories and playing endless card games.

We have a lot of pranksters in this group, A LOT! The prankers usually strike at night. Last night, Jazz, Jameson, Mike, Sunny, and Blake saran wrapped Caitlin, Michaela and Sarah’s door when they were asleep. Let’s just say, it made for an eventful morning.

“One of our team mottos on this trip is, “Disconnect to connect.” We put our phones away and spend quality time together sharing stories and playing endless card games.”

We are loving every minute of this experience, and we hope we’ve been able to provide you with a glimpse of our time here in South Africa. We are so excited for the upcoming week and make sure to stay tuned for more updates! Thanks for reading!

3 responses to “A Day in the Life in ACE in South Africa

  • Jo Ann Klein says:

    Loved reading about the incredible experience you are having and the new friendships you’ve made!!! Miss you❤️

  • Jo Ann Klein says:

    Happy to hear about the incredible time you’re experiencing and the new friendships you’re making. Miss you❤️

  • Marcus Aprahamian says:

    This is so awesome! Sounds like a lot of positive lifelong memories being made for everyone involved! Keep it up!

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